Klaxons - Children of the Sun

klaxons
When these guys first exploded onto the scene in around 2006, it felt like they could go on to be as big as they wanted to be. The sky seemed the limit for their tripped-out yet accessible sound, and with a litany of ready-made hits packed into their debut album, the signs were good after the first hurdle. Sadly, their second album landed in 2010 to much less fanfare, a situation which was worsened by the poor product they released – they’ve been missing from music ever since, with very few asking where they might be.

Their first album was a perfect medium between jagged indie and crowd-pleasing pop, and the second probably leaned to heavily on the former. Having returned with the disco-funk stylings of There Is No Other Time a few days ago, it looked like there the catchy, more pop-driven style had wrestled most of the control back, but Klaxons have thrown up another switch with this second effort.

It’s got hallmarks of a mid-90s Britpop anthem, evoking memories of Blur and the like, with a midtempo pace held together by a mesmerising and almost military percussion line, accompanied by crunching guitar work that really does throwback to the early and mid 90s era of British indie. It’s a definite switch in direction, but it works purely by being fairly unique in today’s scene, and it’s a positive step by the band in recovering some of their lost audience. Expect more soon, as the new album lands this summer.

Flatbush Zombies - Demos

flatbush
There is something about these two that entertains me. The music is generally good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not as if they’re constantly dropping 10/10 material. However, they exist beyond the music, and it’s utterly ridiculous imagery like this that enamours the duo to me.

In a generous spirit, Erick of the Zombies let loose this collection of nine unreleased tracks from 2012 sessions, possibly around the time of the recording/release of the breakout D.R.U.G.S. mixtape, in what appears to be a very popular release. Whilst it’s all offered as one long mix (much to the detriment of us iTunes librarians!), the feedback is convicing enough to give it a go anyway- the Childish Gambino feature on one of the tracks doesn’t hurt either. Check the whole thing out below, and look out for more from the Zombies soon.

Childish Gambino - Die Without You (P.M. Dawn Cover)

Everyone has relatively obscure songs that they remember from their childhood. When it comes to them, A) you expect no-one else in your generation knows or remembers them, and B) you’re fiercly protective of them and won’t accept sub-standard covers or remixes. The P.M. Dawn original is a masterpiece in my world (because my mother listened to it religiously, essentially burning it onto my brain), and hence seeing that Gambino covered it last week not only drew surprise, but also a heavy serving of caution.

Thankfully, it’s actually good. Not only can I appreciate his choice of something 20+ years old, and with personal value to me (the latter is clearly why he picked it), but his execution is strong. Of course, he’s not going to perfectly recreate the smooth, gentle emotion of the original in such a setting, but he gives it a very admirable effort.

The vocal work is really likeable, and given that most of his radio performances are rap-oriented, it’s good to hear him exclusively sing on this one, and do so in a manner that doesn’t seem too far at all from his studio work. There’s enough rawness here to keep it true to the original, whilst the variety in his performance demonstrates his ability with a few difficult notes, and will definitely win over some of the more mainstream heads. A worthy cover of a legendary original, and I’d be keen to see if he offers up a studio version at some point.

Jamie xx and Four Tet - Seesaw

It is only a radio rip, but what an excellent piece this is from two of our fair country’s best upcoming producers. The Young Turks labelmates come through with a laidback instrumental that has all the hallmarks of their best work, yet manages to sound like nothing either has produced individually.

It’s quite brilliant what a few easygoing synths and a quickfire percussion can do. The layers intertwine wonderfully throughout, and between an electro-styled synth, a drifty, airy vocal sample, assorted blips and short melodies, there’s something surprisingly cohesive and deliciously bright throughout. It’ll certainly evoke a summer feeling for many, and credit goes to the duo for incorporating both the eclectic style of Four Tet’s work with the laidback effortlessness often associated with Jamie XX.

No word on an official release (or none that I’ve seen), but fingers crossed this will emerge in full, high-quality glory soon. Or at least in time for the week of summer that we’ll get.

Kelela - The High

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Kelela was one of the standout contributors to Solange’s phenomenal Saint Heron compilation of last year, and though her name has popped up intermittently during my various travels across the internet, it was that album that really brought her to my attention.

Her Cut 4 Me album is another of last year’s strong releases, featuring a great mix of dark, atmospheric production and diverse vocals, and certainly presented Kelela as an upcoming talent to be watched. This latest release, not announced for any particular project, is a good addition to her growing catalogue, and again paints the singer in a very favourable light. The production is supremely moody, built up on a brooding bassline that plods through the track with power and intent, whilst the supporting cast of gentle synths just about hang in there, buzzing around the driving bass but never dragging it into any other direction. It’s a good backdrop too, as it allows for plenty of flexibility on the vocal layer, as Kelela primarily offers a gentle delivery, blending well with the sombre production, but intersperses that with both higher-pitched blasts and soft harmonising.

The whole lot combines into a very replayable piece of R&B/soul, and one that’s certainly in a style that encapsulates this rising “alternative R&B” movement.